This week marks the 50th anniversary of the iconic James Bond series, which now counts 23 movies in its ranks — including the upcoming Skyfall starring Daniel Craig, out this November — adapted from the eponymous novels by late English author, journalist and Naval Intelligence Officer Ian Fleming. The hit series follows the adventures, both amorous and political, of British intelligence MI6 agent James Bond, codename 007, who was originally played by the dashing Sean Connery and later succeeded by George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Craig, respectively.

The first movie, Dr. No (1962), saw Connery protect an American space launch from the evil Dr. No's atomic threat, in appropriate Cold War fashion, and narrowly escape death himself, once to a hired killer, another to a tarantula, and finally to a flame-thrower. Yet thrilling as Bond's missions have always been, we imagine the whole affair would've eventually gotten fairly tedious — both for us and for the solo agent — had he not been so graciously accompanied by a host of beautiful women, both allies and foes, who provided eye candy and the occasional twist while Bond pranced about saving the world. The woman we can thank for that trend is Swiss beauty Ursula Andress, who played bikini-clad Jamaican shell diver Honey Ryder alongside Connery in Dr. No (pictured above).

More importantly, the womanizing Bond and his Bond girls actually evolved over the years, shedding some of its sexisms along the way, and featuring stronger female leads that empowered the secondary role to which they were initially relegated. A notorious example is Halle Berry (pictured above), who in Die Another Day (2002) became the first African American Bond girl as the sexy and smart Jinx; her bikini scene, inspired by Andress' years earlier, came full circle to show just how far the Bond girl had come. Others like her have included Michelle Yeoh, a real life martial arts expert who could've easily snapped Brosnan's neck in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), and the razor sharp Eva Green (pictured below), whose intelligence and enigma steal, in an unusual turn of events, the heart of our beloved Don Juan.

Check out the full slideshow to see Bond's most striking and legendary Bond girls, including Jane Seymour, Talisa Soto, Olga Kurylenko, Claudine Auger, Izabella Scorupco, Honor Blackman, Maud Adams (pictured top), Sophie Marceau and Denise Richards, here.

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